Well, hello there.
Most of you know that as well as being an anthropologist, for the past two decades (18 years) I’ve worked in the fitness industry. I’ve seen lots of fads come and go, and I think after all this time I have a good idea of what works. So here’s my list of “the Big Five” tips for losing weight and getting fit:
- Don’t diet!! For most people, a ‘diet’ is something you go on a for a fixed amount of time. You go off the diet and return to your usual lifestyle and the weight starts to go back on. Instead of a diet, I’m advocating a lifestyle change. That’s right: change forever your eating habits and those of your family. Don’t buy soft drinks, juice, chips, cakes unless they’re for special occasions and have only one alcoholic drink per day. Don’t starve, but replace these high fat, high sugar things with low GI carbs, lean meat, fresh fruit and vegetables. I can guarantee you’ll notice the difference in a few weeks. And throw away your scales. I don’t own any. I went 7 years without being weighed and judged myself from my clothes and how I felt.
- Eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Ask thin people if they eat breakfast. Now ask someone ‘larger’. I’m not sure of the underlying psychology, but there’s a number of studies that have shown that overweight people don’t eat breakfast. Eat breakfast and do it AT HOME – not at Macca’s!
- Don’t eat starchy, carbohydrate-laden food after lunch. Carbohydrates are not your enemy. They are not inherently bad for you; however, they are ENERGY FOOD and if that energy isn’t being used, then guess what your body does with it? Stores it away for later usage as fat. My rule is: no bread, pasta, potatoes, rice etc with my evening meal. Just vegetables and a slightly larger serve of meat. It takes your body a lot more calories to digest protein than it does carbs – and unless you plan on running night marathons or being a nocturnal animal, you don’t need the quick, easy energy you get from starchy carbs post-midday.
- Do weight training exercises at least twice per week. That’s right girls, weights. Why? Because it creates lean body mass. Lean body mass (muscle) burns calories just to exist, including when you’re asleep. Thus, you lose fat without noticing! Weight training also helps ward off osteoporosis and the body’s aging processes, such as sagging skin and muscle loss. There is also evidence to suggest that weight training exercises are associated with increased mental function in the elderly. In other words, you should be doing BODY PUMP (PUMP) or something like it for an hour, 2-3 times per week for the rest of your life. I said lifestyle, didn’t I?
- Go for a 30 min brisk walk -or preferably a jog- four times per week and one yoga/stretch class per week. Cardiovascular fitness helps to burn off fat, but also decreases stress, assists with stimulating the immune system and can assist with treating depression. You need to do at least 25 min of cardio exercise (where you are just starting to perspire and where you can still talk or whistle) before you exhaust the supply of sugar energy in your blood. Once you’ve done this, you start to use fat tissue as an energy source. Simple. HOWEVER: I mean walk very fast so you sweat and keep it up for 30 min. Not the pace you use in a shopping centre or on the golf course. I mean WALK. If you can jog or run, then do so. On stretching or yoga. Flexibility -stretching- is that ‘other’ kind of fitness that often gets ignored. Stretching helps prevent injuries and keeps you limber as you get older. When you’re 80, you’ll be able to bend down and get the pegs off the ground you’ve dropped whilst putting clothes on the line. That’s got to be something!
Now if I don’t know you – and you just happened to have stumbled across this post, make sure you check with your doctor before undertaking any exercise if you’re: over 45, are a smoker, have high blood pressure or any heart condition or any medical condition that may impede you in any way.
So the big message is: it’s got to be your LIFE. Fitness and health can’t be a diet you go on to lose weight for your wedding day. That is just setting yourself up to fail. It’s got to be the way you live life.
…Ok. I’m getting off the soapbox now.